I just finished reading the Scholomance trilogy by Naomi Novik (first book is “A Deadly Education”) and it is really terrific. The hero is a pissed-off mixed-race bi girl in a dangerous wizard school who has no friends because of her unfortunate and unwanted talent for great dark magics. It’s full of great characters, unexpected plot twists, and fantastic world-building. It’s clear by the end of the third book that the whole story arc was mapped out from the start.
From yesterday, my review of The Husky and His White Cat Shizun Vol. 3 by Rou Bao Bu Chi Rou https://susannashore.blogspot.com/2023/09/the-husky-and-his-white-cat-shizun-vol.html
🆕 blog! “Book Review: Time Squared - Lesley Krueger”
What if the heroine in a Jane Austen novel had visions of the future and the past? That's the rather compelling premise of Time Squared. But, ultimately, it doesn't really fulfil the promise. It starts as a fairly standard regency-style novel - which of the two dashing brothers will our orphaned heroine marry?!? Our protagoni…
Book Review: Time Squared - Lesley Krueger
[Image: Book cover for Time Squared.]
What if the heroine in a Jane Austen novel had visions of the future and the past? That's the rather compelling premise of Time Squared. But, ultimately, it doesn't really fulfil the promise.
It starts as a fairly standard regency-style novel - which of the two dashing brothers will our orphaned heroine marry?!? Our protagonist sometimes has headaches which lead her to see glimpses of a future she cannot understand. And then... nothing.
The story meanders along with the occasional twists and turns you might expect; romance, botched proposals, and gossiping neighbours.
About halfway through the book the twist gradually begins to reveal itself - but it is slow, bordering on afterthought. Not until two thirds of the way through does anything of interest happen. And when it does, it is quite a delightfully unexpected reveal.
The main problem is that there are no clues or foreshadowing throughout the novel (or, if there are, I'm too dense to have noticed) - so the end is a bit deus ex machina.
The end is terrific, and totally unexpected. But the book felt like too much preamble and not enough build-up.
"Charlie Fitzer has not got a lot going for him. An ex-journalist turned reluctant substitute teacher whose wife left him and whose father passed away recently, he had one goal and hope. Become the new owner of the town’s beloved institution of a watering hole, McDougal’s Pub alongside his beloved pet cat Hera."...
It's been a while, but got around to reviewing Pat Barker's feminist retelling of the Iliad from Briseis' perspective.
The Silence of the Girls - Pat Barker
Antony Beevor captures the harrowing history of the Russian Revolution and Civil War in this incredible book, although I wonder how anyone managed to survive. Find out more in my review at https://abookishtype.wordpress.com/2023/09/28/russia-by-antony-beevor/
"Wizard of the Crow" Ngūgū wa Thiong'o. 3 stars. A satire of African dictatorships and coups. Nearly everyone is stupid, superstitious or greedy. Lightly amusing & insightful but exceeedingly long.
Reading time 24 days, 32 pages/day
Ace review from The Herald for Iain Hood’s new novel, #MyBookofRevelations
‘…driven by an inexhaustible stream of imagination & Hood’s fearless desire to leave narrative conventions behind & fly unfettered into a realm of pure ideas.’💪
Wow 😯 🌟
Hard Lying by Lewen Weldon
At the time of the outbreak of World War One, Lewen Weldon was stationed in Egypt where he was employed in surveying the region. Quickly stationed on a converted German cargo boat, the SS Aenne Rickmers, now an early-type aircraft carrier, along with a colourful and international crew to act as Inte
#Words #Biography #Blog #BookRecommendation #BookReview #Exploration #History #NonFiction #Travel #writing #WW1
@patricksamphire has created the perfect fantasy mystery series with his Mennik Thorn stories.
The last instalment is now available! It concludes explosively!
I cannot recommend it highly enough. I LOVED IT!
My review explains why.
One of the best photo records of board games history. Margaret Hofer's book reminisces on the "Golden Age of Board & Table Games". Read Tom's review and travel back in time.
Tabletop Analog Game Design from Drew Davidson and Greg Costikyan covers the design, analysis, and study of tabletop games. Check out Tom's book review for more info.
]u[ Ubiquity Press journal, Journal of Interactive Media in Education (JIME), is seeking book reviewers for some of the latest books released on the topics of educational technology and the role of multimedia technologies in higher education. 🖥️ 🔓 📖
Sound up your street? Find out more: https://jime.open.ac.uk/
#OpenAccess #OA #MediaStudies #bookreview
📕The Revenge by John Reid 📕
Two stories run concurrently & move along at a brisk pace; Burt & his team having to balance the demands of MI5/MI6 with their normal policing activities to uncover the truth.
An easy writing style makes for an enjoyable read with unexpected twists that kept me engaged & wanting to know what happened next. A brilliant place to start this series if you haven’t come across DCI Burt & his team before. Highly recommended. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Review: Preset by Sarina Dahlan
An attempt to top its ambitious predecessor Reset by not providing a sequel, but rather a prequel showing how the world of the four cities came to be.
My @NerdsofaFeather review for your Thursday:
My latest book review is up: The Husky and His White Cat Shizun Vol. 3 by Rou Bao Bu Chi Rou. Best volume so far and 😭😭😭
I became aware of Donna Ashworth on Facebook, I think, when I noticed people sharing her posts over the lockdown period. At a time when, let's be honest, the world was a very scary place, her wise words brought comfort and hope. And hope is what this book focuses on in a mixture of poetry and short passages of prose.
"Divine Retribution" by R. Weir delivers an electrifying and gripping conclusion to The Divine Devils series in "The Divine Devils Final Chapter."
In this thrilling tale, the tormented protagonist, Hunter Divine, navigates a world darkened by tragedy and betrayal.
THE HAZARDS OF FINDING YOURSELF and creating a lifelong friendship in the midst of unrequited crushes, awkward love triangles, and the overall gloom of an economic recession. Witty, insightful, eloquently Irish coming-of-age novel. B PLUS
Biblio File column: “You Can’t Complete Me—But I Can!: A Self-Love Story” by Hayley Kaplan.
Please subscribe to my free "Barnetto" newsletter: barnetto.substack.com
New sapphic book review! Not Just Gal Pals by Elizabeth Luly
⭐⭐ This is not a good book.
Egregious formatting errors, duplicated content, irrelevant (verbose) information, yet lack of needed details elsewhere, omitted code examples making some chapters unreadable (I'm not going to type up a URL for every tiny code block), inconsistent style, tangential domain-specific chapters, and actual code errors abound.
📕Unfinished Business by Leye Adenle 📕
Amaka receives a frantic phone call from her friend, Funke, who asks for her urgent help. Why does Funke need help & is she in danger? How will Amaka negotiate her way through the twisting plot of money laundering, corruption & the ever-present influence of mega churches?
An easy writing style which transported me to the heat & intrigue of Nigeria. Highly recommended. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett
This rework of his very first book is a lot of fun. We follow along with various kinds of people as they struggle to understand the world of the carpet and how they're going to preserve society. As Terry himself put it, he used to think fantasy should be all about fighting and battles, but has since decided that not fighting is a lot more interesting.
📚 The Fall by Michael Wolff: a dull portrait of Murdoch - review
"The theoretical golden years of Murdoch’s life, thirty years now, had been so much about winning the approval of his children."
Book review: The First Astronomers - How Indigenous Elders read the stars by Duane Hamacher https://ianhopkinson.org.uk/2023/09/book-review-the-first-astronomers-by-duane-hamacher/ #BookReview #Bookstodon #Astronomy #HistSci
📕Traitors Gate by Jeffrey Archer 📕
A brilliant, convoluted plan to steal the Crown Jewels with the help of an obliging inside man.
I really enjoyed this book. A pacy read which had so many threads I wasn’t sure how they would all pull together but then Mr Archer is a master storyteller so I needn’t have worried. There were some nice little nods to his early books & birthplace too - IYKYK. Thoroughly recommended. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Microreview: Sordidez by E. G. Condé
Sordidez address community survival in the face of empire and the climate crisis, offering a future centering Indigenous power and queer resilience.
Phoebe Wagner has our review today at the Hugo Finalist
Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey deliver a rip-roaring, gore-splattered, and wildly enjoyable adventure in The Dead Take the A Train. Find out more in my review at https://abookishtype.wordpress.com/2023/09/25/the-dead-take-the-a-train-by-cassandra-khaw-and-richard-kadrey/
📕 Death’s Justice by Jack Probyn 📕
This book is the start of the new DS Tomek Bowen series & what a great read it was. Our lead character is not a particularly happy bunny & much of this is of his own making but he also has a significant backstory. He isn’t the usual angst ridden policeman.
An easy writing style made me read until silly o’clock in the morning; I’ve already started book 2 & I know book 3 is on the horizon. So what are you waiting for? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
New review: The Value of a Whale is a shocking and necessary corrective to the green capitalist solutions to address climate change.
HOMETOWN HAUNTINGS, BOTH of past relationships and in a newly purchased house, challenge a woman trying to come to terms with her past and future. Well-written, spicy romantic suspense. B PLUS
A dream of a horse in flames, a lost puppy, and falling in love change the life of master potter Elango and the small community of Kummarapet in Anuradha Roy's 'The Earthspinner'. The story is told through the lives of Elango and Sara, his former pupil who the potter passes the art and craft of clay on to. A quietly powerful novel about change and transformation.
🆕 blog! “Book Review: The Variable Man and other stories - Philip K. Dick”
Everyone smokes in the future. It is such an obvious truism that sci-fi writers can predict faster-than-light travel, yet fail to see that manly men won't be smoking pipes on board their spaceships. Someone recommended that I read "Autofac" which is the sci-fi version of "The …
Book Review: The Variable Man and other stories - Philip K. Dick
Everyone smokes in the future. It is such an obvious truism that sci-fi writers can predict faster-than-light travel, yet fail to see that manly men won't be smoking pipes on board their spaceships.
Someone recommended that I read "Autofac" which is the sci-fi version of "The Magic Porridge Pot". But the story was surprisingly hard to find. Originally published in a magazine in 1955, it was republished in a collection called "The Variable Man" in 1957.
It is impossible to find a modern reprint of that collection, let alone an eBook. If you search around various archives, you'll find a low-quality scan of the paperback but it's hard to read on an eReader. So I got a bunch of modern PKD collections, extracted the individual stories from them, and made my own samizdat copy. Isn't the future grand!
The stories are all 70 years old and, while they reflect the tastes of the age, they remain remarkably relevant.
The titular "Variable Man" is outstanding. It's partly an ode to those who feel out of place - and partly a satire of murderous generals who satisfy their bloodlust by turning against each other.
The "Second Variety" is a spooky ghost story. A precursor to "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", it has a simplicity to it which makes it rather engaging.
I'd seen the movie "Minority Report", but never read the story. Personally, I think it is adapted rather well to the screen. The precognitive paradox is explained well and it becomes a tense little adventure story.
"Autofac" was a hacker's delight! A "paperclip maximiser" refuses to stop, long past its usefulness. What particularly impressed me was the way Dick thought around the problem and found a way for his "heroes" to tackle the menace without resorting to violence.
Finally, "A World Of Talent" is bizarre and, to me, not very compelling. Much like Minority Report, it deals with the second-order effects of psychic ability. If you knew you were going to have an argument with your wife later tonight, would you change anything? It is a mish-mash of ideas (interstellar war, psychics, anti-psychics, time-travel) which feels like an epic saga squished into 60 pages.
Dick was, undoubtedly, the master of ideas. Some seem a little quaint today - but they're all rather compelling.
New book review! Today I'm looking at the last book in the Last Binding series: A Power Unbound, by Freya Marske. Read my review at https://abookishtype.wordpress.com/2023/09/23/a-power-unbound-by-freya-marske/
🆕 blog! “Book Review: Hacking Capitalism - Modeling, Humans, Computers, and Money by Kris Nóva”
I was saddened to hear of Kris Nóva's untimely death a few weeks ago. I had her book "Hacking Capitalism" on my eReader for several months, but hadn't got around to reading it yet. Never put these things off. The book is a complicat…
Book Review: Hacking Capitalism - Modeling, Humans, Computers, and Money by Kris Nóva
I was saddened to hear of Kris Nóva's untimely death a few weeks ago. I had her book "Hacking Capitalism" on my eReader for several months, but hadn't got around to reading it yet. Never put these things off.
The book is a complicated but fitting legacy. It absolutely showcases Nóva's ideas, ideals, and potential. Perhaps a little overwrought in places, and a little underpowered in others. It's clear that her heart was in the right place and she was making a huge impact in the world. The staccato paragraphs and bullet point entries only underline how much she had to say and how quickly she wanted to say it.
There are a lot of pithy statements buried in the pages:
For every exciting innovation, a legacy system must rot.
And some sections ought to be tattoo'd on the inside of our eyelids:
Remember: The tech industry expects competition because the tech industry is built on capitalism.
There’s legally nothing wrong with playing the same game that the corporations are playing.
The book attempts to map cybersecurity hacking onto work/life hacking. For example, can you use social engineering tricks to find job openings?
You can start to probe for weaknesses by looking for a response. In career exploitation, this can be a response to a tweet, a LinkedIn message, or an email.
It's a clever way of looking at the world. Indeed, Nóva has an interesting perspective on the tech scene as a trans-woman:
In my opinion, masculine socialization directly leads to the ruthlessly competitive personality types that are rewarded within tech. This opinion is based on my experience as both a man and woman working in the tech industry.
I'm not sure I buy all of the pronouncements she makes though. The book does overlook that some of us working in tech are doing so for Governments, charities, and non-profits. Sure, we're all inside capitalism, but our employers aren't necessarily solely driven by a profit motive.
It's certainly a hell of a lot better than most "thought leader" / "industry insider" nonsense. It's a good way to open your eyes to some of the ways the system is stacked against people - and how you can fight back.
Kris leaves behind a huge legacy. It would have been brilliant to see how much further she could have gone.
I'll leave the last word to her:
I want to buy as much land as possible and give it back to society and to the people. I want to wake up in the morning and — even if for a single day — I want to feel free.
This is a great book about Mastodon.
Like it says in the beginning, you don't need to read all of it - I skimmed the sections about starting an instance & tools. I would vote for @Ivory be included in the next edition 😁
I'm still confused how the character limit gets set for replies. Does it follow the original post? or is is set by the instance you are on, or the app/platform? Maybe it's all in my head.
An overlong and meandering review of Katy Barrett's Looking for Longitude: A Cultural History. Don't read the review read her excellent book instead! #histsci #histtech #BookReview
My reading of work by writers from the Czech Republic this month continued with the collection 'Prague Noir' edited by Pavel Mandys, which is from Akashic's Noir imprint. It's a strong and varied selection of stories, not traditional noir but tales with a darker edge that incorporate Prague's history and traditions of the mystical.
Sammy Stein - "Fabulous Female Musicians" book review
🆕 blog! “Book Review: The Internet Con - How to Seize the Means of Computation by Cory Doctorow”
This is beloved firebrand Cory doing what he does best. Rallying the rebellion with righteous indignation and a no-nonsense approach to fixing technology's ills. If you've read any of his fiction, or liste…
Book Review: The Internet Con - How to Seize the Means of Computation by Cory Doctorow
This is beloved firebrand Cory doing what he does best. Rallying the rebellion with righteous indignation and a no-nonsense approach to fixing technology's ills.
If you've read any of his fiction, or listened to him talk, you'll know what to expect. An overview of how big tech has screwed us over and the consequences of those machinations. Unlike other writers, Doctorow provides eminently practical solutions.
Now, some of the solutions you'll be unable to implement unless you're an elected official. So now's a great time to write to your representative and ask them to take action.
He is relentless at pointing out the hypocrisy of big tech - fighting to carve out exceptions for themselves which they then deny to others. We get a full-on historical lesson about the VCR and how the fight for the right to party infringe copyright was won and lost several times.
I spent many years working inside the UK Government pushing the agenda of open standards and interoperability. So it was particularly gratifying to read:
Governments can—and should—have rules about interoperability in their procurement policies. They should require companies hoping to receive public money to supply the schematics, error codes, keys and other technical matter needed to maintain and improve the things they sell and provide to our public institutions.
That's what I did! It is getting better - but it is work that will never be finished.
Similarly, he accurately describes the problems with Standards Development Organisations:
standardization meetings and forensic examinations of firewall errors—is supremely dull. It combines the thrill of bookkeeping with the excitement of Robert’s Rules of Order.
I've been a member of many and - yes - that's exactly what it is like. But, I take slight issue at some of his suggestions on this topic. The ideal SDO has to be a compromise. No one gets to walk away entirely happy. This is the eternal "Devil's Bargain" - we all exchange a little bit of what we want in order to get closer to what we need. I'm not sure there's any way around that without centrally mandating specific technical choices.
Indeed, he goes on to say:
We won’t fix anything by demanding the impossible and shouting “nerd harder!” when tech companies fail to produce it. Nor will we fix anything by taking the tech industry at its word when it tells us that effective policies are flat-out impossible.
I'm a boring practicalist. At some point we need to do what works, even if it is ideologically unpleasant.
One of the things that Cory does well is "steelman" his opponents' arguments. He's excellent at taking on some big topics (CSAM and Blockchain, for example) and giving their proponents the benefit of the doubt1. And then he forensically takes them apart.
Cory's writing style is like his spoken style. The poetic rhythm is almost palpable - as is his love for sarcastic asides. It makes this - admittedly short - book supremely quick to read. I feel greedy asking for more - but the book does end rather abruptly.
If you work in tech, or go anywhere near tech-policy, this is a must read. It gives you the history of how we got here, explains the problems happening now, and warns about an uncertain future.
- The eBook is currently on sale for £4.50 from the publishers.
- You can follow Cory Doctorow on Mastodon @pluralistic
- OK, he does say "It’s an established fact that 99.83 percent of all conversations about blockchain are nonconsensual." Which is a bit uncharitable. It's, like, 99.73% max! ↩
Review: The Dawn of Everything
The Dawn of Everything is a book of anthropology and archaeology which suggests a vision of the prehistory of humanity that is very different from previous evolutionary texts.
#Anthropology #BookReview #DavidGraeber #DavidWengrow
"Fabulous Female Musicians" is the new book from Sammy Stein - my review
SELF PROMOTION! My book, Taliesin, Chief of Bards, was just awarded a 5 star recommendation from the Historical Fiction Company!
You can read their review of the book here: https://www.thehistoricalfictioncompany.com/post/a-welsh-legend-rises-an-editorial-review-of-taliesin-chief-of-the-bards
And in case anyone wants to buy a copy, it's available here:
"This kind of aggressively spectral heroine—thin in more ways than one—seems increasingly a mainstay of contemporary Anglophone fiction. As with Rachel Cusk’s recent protagonists, they’re known more through their characterological outlines than their interior motivations. Or like Sally Rooney’s brittle heroines, they work through their inner wounds by worrying their outer ones." https://www.bookforum.com/print/3001/emma-cline-s-novel-of-a-sex-worker-who-s-never-off-the-clock-25221 #bookReview
#BookReview: Circumcision Scar: My Foreskin Restoration, Neonatal Circumcision Memories and How Christian Doctors Duped a Nation (2020) by Jay J. Jackson
Reviewed by Tim Hammond for Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health (2021)
Long-time gay rights activist Tim Hammond connects cultural fears of the intact penis with homophobia within this review of Jay Jackson's intensely personal book.
New review: Life Sculpted is a witty book that boils over with fascinating studies about one of the more obscure corners of biology: bioerosion.
#BookReview for "The Unidentified Mythical Monsters, Alien Encounters, and Our Obsession with the Unexplained" by Colin Dickey
It's just ok. I like that it's a history of how beliefs in cryptids and UFOs have been shaped over time, sometimes by pop culture. Don't feel it would turn any believers into skeptics, however. And the weakest parts are when the author speculates on - stating as fact, without sources - cultural explanations for why beliefs became popular at given times.
The Good Virus: The Untold Story Of Phages By Tom Ireland — Review, published by HodderBooks, 2023
by @GrrlScientist via ForbesScience / Forbes
An engaging book about the viruses that prey on bacteria, packed with inspirational stories of eccentric scientists, medical miracles and interwoven with how science and history affect each other
UK publisher Pamenar Press is calling bilingual #Spanish #writers, #scholars, and contemporary #MexicanLit enthusiasts!
They're publishing my book #ScaryStory, translated by D. P. Snyder.
Interested in reviewing it? They'd love to hear from you. (And I'd love it, too!)
More info: https://buff.ly/3P6mnn9
#books #bookstodon #bookreview #bookreviews #bookworm #LatinAmericanLiterature #LatinAmericanLit #LatinAmerica
I reviewed issue #2 of Titan Comics’ Conan the Barbarian! The artwork is absolutely gorgeous, and the story thus far is intriguing.
(As always, boosts are appreciated!)
"[F]or a period after the Second World War, [J.L. Austin] was the leading figure of the school of ordinary language philosophy that dominated Oxford." But biographer M.W. Rowe "has discovered that Austin was one of the most important Allied military intelligence officers during the Second World War, overseeing the team that made the Normandy landings possible."
https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v45/n17/thomas-nagel/leader-of-the-martians #philosophy #biography #bookReview
All in all August was a good reading month for me, I was able to read four books from the TBR for Women in Translation month and spend some vicarious time at the Met Museum, among bookish people, with a family in the English countryside after the war, in snowy Quebec, in lush Guadeloupe, and among older artists doing their best work.